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© Robert Sommers 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Roy Gaines


Kip and I went to a great show the other night, way out at Barrett Junction, southeast of San Diego. Billed as the JAZZ 88.3 Saturday Night Fish Fry, we were treated to the dulcet sounds of the Roy Gaines Tuxedo Orchestra and all the catfish and hush puppies we could eat.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Roy Gaines until Kip introduced me to him about four or five years ago. I loved his sound at first hear. How did I not know about him?

Originally from Texas, Gaines was a childhood musical prodigy, first playing piano and then guitar.

He was brought up on stage at the age of 14 to play with his musical idol, T-bone Walker, who he later played with.  He moved to California at the age of 16 to play guitar with Roy "Pops" Milton.

Eventually he became a sideman for a variety of headliners including Chuck Willis and Ray Charles. He also played with Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Big Mama Thornton, the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Bobby Darin, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight amongst others.

Like T-Bone and very few others, Gaines is one of the rare  musicians who can sing as beautifully as they can play. Last week he played with his twenty piece Tuxedo Orchestra at the Playboy Jazz fest at Hollywood Bowl. I think it is fair to say that the diminutive guitarist deserves far more acclaim than he has received to date. The eight piece band we saw ripped, was a musical delight from start to finish. Music was great, crowd was great.

We had wanted to bug out early but I couldn't, I was transfixed as were the rest of the people in the crowd. Gaines is either 83 or 87 but he still nails it in every way. If you ever get a chance to hear him, do so. I talked to him both before the show and at the break, he signed a record and cd, just the coolest cat.

If you watch the second linked video closely I think you can see yours truly macking down on catfish.

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